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Postmodern Philosophy and the Scientific Turn

Dorothea E. Olkowski

Publication Year: 2012

What can come of a scientific engagement with postmodern philosophy? Some scientists have claimed that the social sciences and humanities have nothing to contribute, except perhaps peripherally, to their research. Dorothea E. Olkowski shows that the historic link between science and philosophy, mathematics itself, plays a fundamental role in the development of the worldviews that drive both fields. Focusing on language, its expression of worldview and usage, she develops a phenomenological account of human thought and action to explicate the role of philosophy in the sciences. Olkowski proposes a model of phenomenology, both scientific and philosophical, that helps make sense of reality and composes an ethics for dealing with unpredictability in our world.

Published by: Indiana University Press

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pp. xi-xxiii

A book that sets out to engage with the topic of postmodern philosophy and the scientific turn might seem rather curious. Why refer to postmodern philosophy and not, for example, poststructuralist philosophy? What do we mean by the phrase scientific turn? Continental philosophers are familiar...

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pp. xxv-xxvii

The theme of this book is that no creature or event in the evolving universe is merely the result of random, atomistic collisions. The existence of this book is perhaps the strongest evidence I have for that position. No doubt, my very gradual awakening to the correlation of mathematics and natural...

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1. NATURE CALLS: Scientific Worldviews and the Sokal Hoax

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pp. 1-21

The controversial, sham essay, written by the physicist Alan Sokal and published in 1996, possibly to its great mortification, by the cultural studies journal Social Text, begins with a statement that is no hoax but that rings true for many, if not most, researchers in the natural sciences. The statement...

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pp. 23-37

In The Natural Contract, Michel Serres makes a case for the juridical nature of knowledge in the natural sciences. “The sciences proceed by contracts. Scientific certainty and truth depend, in fact, as much on such judgments as such judgments do on them.” How does this occur? The claim is that...

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3. SEMI-FREE: Thermodynamics, Probability, and the New Worldview

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pp. 39-58

What might be surprising about modern science, what might go against our expectations, at least if we follow Arendt’s account, is that it already revealed the human capacity to “think in terms of the universe while remaining on the earth . . . to use cosmic laws as guiding principles for terrestrial action...

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4. BURNING MAN: The Influence of Nonequilibrium Thermodynamics and the Science of Flow

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pp. 59-90

We saw in the previous chapter that for Stengers and Prigogine, questions about the relationship of philosophy to science are closely associated with their understanding of processes that, they claim, no longer appear to be explicable in terms of time or process reversibility. Concepts associated...

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pp. 91-123

We began chapter 1 with the admonition of physicist Steven Weinberg that those philosophers who seek extra-scientific messages in what they “think” they understand about modern physics are making a grave error. And yet we also saw that philosophers, historians, and social scientists have linked changes...

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6. LOVE’S ONTOLOGY: Ethics Beyond the Limits of Classical Science

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pp. 125-156

We concluded the previous chapter with a discussion of dynamical systems theory and made the claim that this is the structure exemplified by the Sartrean concept of being and nothingness. Let us continue this discussion by reference to the logical presuppositions of this same Sartrean concept. Being...


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pp. 157-197


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pp. 199-207


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pp. 209-216

E-ISBN-13: 9780253001146
E-ISBN-10: 0253001145
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253001122

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2012